An exciting new middle grade children’s novel. Here is a preview…
One great BOOM, followed another as giant scoops of water rose up from the bottom of the ocean and smacked into the bow of the ferry. The animals on board huddled, lurched and moaned as their stomachs lifted and dropped, lifted and dropped to the motion of the waves. Goats bleated, cows complained, and the mother of six little mice tried to hush her children’s whining as she held little plastic sick bags to their quivering little chins. On the other side of the cabin, a flock of sheep had squashed themselves into a corner and were staring fearfully at each other. They had long since given up their game of Ewe–Know and the cards now lay crumpled and dirty beneath their hooves.
Yet, not everyone was so full of fear on this thirty-minute trip to an island that was supposed to be full of fun. Every time the adults believed the boat was finally going to perish by the power of the ocean, a handful of older cubs, kittens and joeys screamed with absolute glee.
Noon Boing Boing Rabbit-Eared Bandicoot, was one such tween. Red hoody zipped up over his blue, scruffy hair, his hands hovered above the wet rails at the stern of the ferry as his body and tail swayed to and fro: A game of balance which gave him a feeling of both excitement and anxiety. It also kept the contents of his belly supressed. In fact, the smile on his long muzzle was much like a loose lid on a jar of expired yoghurt… on the edge of a dodgy shelf… in an old, rickety house… during an earthquake.
Still, the pleasure that came from the pounding waves was not enough to make him smile at his mother, Mrs Bilby. She was sitting behind him, brows furrowed, pastel-green, eyeshadowed eyes shut tight, crayon-red lips shut even tighter. She moaned and pulled her blonde, wavy hair back from her square shoulders, as if it would ease her nausea. Noon wanted to ask her for a can of Fizz Pop Wasp Wings but the countless echoes of that morning’s screeching voice insisting he ‘HURRY UP For Goodness’ sake!’ put him off. So instead, he leaned over and grinned stupidly at his mate, Chooger, who was standing beside him.
“You’re a freak, Boing Boing,” said the small yet muscular sugar glider with cropped, black hair. The boy glider had on his favourite, black and white footy vest, loose enough to allow some room for the thin flap of skin between his arms and legs. Black shorts matched black socks pulled up tight to thick calves. His eyes were dark too. Broody. And dark rings around them suggested many sleepless nights playing ‘AFL Slam!’ on his PC.
Noon knew Chooger wasn’t interested in talking about the waves because the ocean isn’t flat, solid and grassy, and there aren’t any goal posts, but he tried anyway. “Hey, Chooger, what do you reckon about water? Don’t you think it’s amazing? I mean those waves are so powerful and then, and then the spray in the air is, like, so fine.”
“How about you get my water bottle then?” Chooger replied, gazing at the agitated wake, “So I can tip it over your head.”
Noon looked away, sucked in a deep breath and tried to gather a feeling of strength in his breast. That’s what his step-father had told him to do whenever he got teased. Not that he wanted to follow his step-father’s commands. ‘Can’t you do anything right?’ Mr Bilby would say while plucking termites from his beard, ‘Cripes, you’re the kind of kid who has to learn the hard way, aren’t you?’ But a month ago Noon had come back from school puffy eyed and angry from being called a rabbit by all day, and Mr Bilby had given him advice he thought was worth keeping. ‘Next time someone bosses you around, think of something comical to say – really get them belly laughing. And if you can’t think of anything funny, lift your leg, let out a stinker and run for it!’
Well, since Noon had good digestion, he didn’t always have gas ready to go, so he was trying his best to be a complete fool.
With this in mind, Noon turned back and grinned once again. “I don’t need a shower. This water is just fine as it is.” He waited a second… “Get it? Fine. The water droplets are fine!”
Chooger rolled his dark eyes. “Is it fine by you if I just boot you into the sharks’ breakfast bowl?”
Noon shrugged and glared down at the cargo in the hold, wrapped taut against the ocean spray. My jokes are about as exciting as those wet tarps, he thought. I’m gonna have to think of something funnier next time. And he smiled as he visualised his friend’s face contorted into hysterics. But that idea got stained with how much Chooger teased him, and as Noon’s gaze drifted to the churning, white trail of the boat, the wind blew tears into his eyes.